by Roy J. Andersen
* * * * *
Slowly, he took the blue fountain pen from the breast pocket of his shirt. He unscrewed the cap and set the gold nib on to the paper that lay before him. He held it there for a moment, pausing, seeking a place in his memories to know where to begin. He stopped. Placed the pen to the right side of the paper and leaned back in his chair. He looked up to the ceiling, closed his eyes and in the darkness of his mind he felt a smile come to his face. A memory came. ……
He and his daughter had spent the whole day in the museum. It was near closing time, feet aching and back strained with standing all day, they were hungry and tired. By now the huge crowds had dispersed and save for the security guards, and a few tourists identified by cameras, they were all but alone.
“I like it like this,” he said. “Nobody pushing, not distracted by crying children. It is easier to fall into a time lapse and imagine being inside a paintings and wonder what lives people are living.”
“I’m tired dad. Can we go soon.”
He nodded, but his mind seemed in a different place. They were in the section of Ancient Civilizations, and he was staring at a vase. A smile of recognition came to his face. The daughter interrupted his thoughts to ask why.
“You see the snakes entwined in the decoration?” He held a finger to show her.
She looked casually.
“Pass my that pad in your bag please.”
Charlotte opened her bag and pulled out a small pad of paper, which she kept for writing down things that popped into her mind and which she might want to remember. She passed this to her father, who had taken a pencil from the inside pocket of his jacket.
She watched curiously as he copied the image of the snakes on to a paper.
“What do you think these entwined snakes mean?” he asked.
She peered to read the inscription next to it. “Something about life.”
“Yes!” he mumbled, while finishing his sketch.
“It is the oldest record we have of the meaning of life. You see the Sumerians used to write in pictograph. They lived along time before the Romans, and the latin letters we take from them. All their tales and stories were laid down as pictures. Now have a look at this.”
He held in front of her the rough sketch he had made of the two snakes.
“Now, bend the paper over, to hide the heads and tails and what do you see.”
“Two snakes with no heads and no tails.”
“Time for a bit of imagination please! Look very closely at the drawing again.”
Her face suddenly lit up. “D.N.A!”
“Precisely! Now tell me, how else could you write the word D.N.A if your language only used picture images?”
She looked from one drawing to the other and back again.
“But how could it be D.N.A dad? We only discovered that in the 1950’s and this vase is,” she chugged her shoulders, “thousands of years old.”
He smiled slightly to himself. “It’s time to go. They are waiting to close.”
He handed Charlotte the pad, and putting the pencil back in his pocket, looked into her eyes.
“I think now you are old enough to know.”
“Oh! This is a very long story. And this, is not the place to tell it. Come on, let’s go.”
It was a long drive back to their home, and Charlotte was asleep by the time the car turned into the long drive leading up to the house. In many ways it was an intriguing house to look at. It was original built in the 1930s, but parts had been rescued from much earlier buildings and built into it giving the overall building a flavor of Tudor times.
It was into a room of such atmosphere as might be imagined that they entered, once things had been unpacked from the car and dinner had been eaten.
He sat down by the log fire, which had just been lit, and she within her favorite armchair. This was the father’s study and their favorite room in the house.
“Do you still have that paper in your pocket dad, of the snakes?”
He took it out of his back pocket and passed it to her.
Looking at the sketch he had made, she asked, “What is it I have to know?”
He stoked the fire and a bust of flame momentarily rose up between the wood.
“I thought I would wait until you had finished school.” He told her. “But young people today seem to have grown up faster than when I was a teenager. You are far more aware of the world than I was at your age, and with all that is now happening in the world I think it is time you should be told.”
She edged herself closer to him in the chair. “Told what?”……..
This book is in the writing….
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